When ‘Drop It’ Is the Best New Year’s Resolution | Kanebridge News
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When ‘Drop It’ Is the Best New Year’s Resolution

Some aspects of sleep, weight, friendships and fitness aren’t worth worrying about

Wed, Jan 4, 2023 9:23amGrey Clock 4 min

Millions of people spend the final days of December coming up with ambitious tasks for the new year. In 2023, resolve to take something off your plate instead.

Physical and mental health—including eating habits, self-care, exercise and weight loss—are among the most common focuses for resolutions. But nearly two-thirds of people who set New Year’s resolutions abandon them within the first month, according to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Part of the problem is that designating vague goals often sets us up for failure, physical- and mental-health professionals say. Consciously removing some of them from your mental to-do list can help alleviate stress and improve focus, says social psychologist Jessica Ayers.

“By taking off one of those big, lofty goals, you’re giving yourself the freedom to actually pursue the goals that are most important to you,” says Dr. Ayers, who is based in Boise, Idaho.

Here are four anti resolutions that will help you enter 2023.

Stop Worrying About Being Night Owl

If you are one of the many people whose bedtimes shifted later during the pandemic, you might be resolving to go to bed earlier. Getting more sleep is a worthy goal, but being a night owl isn’t necessarily the problem, according to sleep researchers.

People have individual chronotypes, or natural tendencies for waking early or sleeping in. When it comes to sleep health, quality, quantity and consistency are the most important metrics, sleep experts say.

If you go to bed at midnight but get between seven and nine hours of good-quality sleep, there is probably no need to worry about moving your bedtime up, says Shelby Harris, a Westchester, N.Y.-based clinical psychologist specialising in behavioural sleep medicine.

Dr. Harris says she has noticed a stigma around being a night owl, compared with morning larks, who are often viewed as more productive and in sync with the nine-to-five schedule. She tells patients they should only embark on the often difficult work of shifting their circadian rhythms, which she says can cause anxiety and insomnia in the early stages, if they are suffering from sleep deprivation.

Stop Weighing Yourself

Many people resolve to lose weight in the new year only to end up obsessing over the number on the scale or give up altogether, doctors and dietitians say.

For those whose doctors have urged them to monitor their weight at home, including people working to prevent or manage chronic conditions, patients undergoing cancer treatments and certain people who are underweight, it is a good idea to keep the scale handy, according to health experts.

Otherwise, consider ditching the scale altogether, says Gregory Dodell, an endocrinologist in New York City who sees many patients for weight-related matters. Self-weighing has been associated with weight loss, but also lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of stress, according to a meta-analysis of 23 studies published in the journal Health Psychology Review in 2016.

“Stepping on a scale without any other health markers is not very impactful,” says Dr. Dodell.

He recommends giving priority to healthy behaviours, such as incorporating more movement into your day and eating enough protein, fruits and vegetables, which can improve health indicators even if they don’t affect weight. Patients who like tracking health metrics might want to focus on other quantifiable characteristics such as blood pressure and blood-sugar levels, he says.

Caroline Susie, a registered dietitian in Dallas, says she has focused on celebrating what she calls non-scale victories with clients, which can include sleeping better, having regular bowel movements, or feeling more energetic.

Stop Worrying That You Don’t Have Enough Friends

Many resolution-setters aim to meet new people and make new friends, but when it comes to friendships, psychologists say, quality matters more than quantity.

We have a limited amount of time and energy to invest in our relationships, says Dr. Ayers, the social psychologist. Keeping a smaller circle of friends allows us to invest more time into meaningful conversations with them, she says.

“Think of deepening instead of broadening,” says psychologist Marisa G. Franco.

As we age and become aware that the end of our lives is drawing closer, we tend to care less about having more friends, a phenomenon known in the field of social science as socio-emotional selectivity. To start forging closer bonds, increase the amount of time you spend with your close friends. That can mean scheduled dates, such as weekly dinners or book clubs, but should also include last-minute hangouts, says Dr. Franco.

“It’s a sign of intimacy when we believe people won’t reject us,” she says.

In a 2020 study of women published in Adultspan Journal, those who visited with close friends a couple of times a week felt younger and had significantly higher levels of life satisfaction than those who visited with theirs a couple of times a year or not at all.

Stop Wasting Money on Fitness

Planning to join a pricey health club or fitness program this year? Don’t rely on the price tag to motivate you.

“Meaningful, lasting, positive change doesn’t come from shame, blame and guilt,” says Darlene Marshall, a personal trainer and wellness coach in Valley Falls, N.Y.

Before you hit “subscribe” on a membership you might not make the most of, ask yourself what you are hoping to get out of it. For many, the answer goes beyond losing weight or looking good in their jeans, says Ms. Marshall. Getting outside, even for short periods, can provide mental and physical health benefits.

“If the question is, ‘Which is going to help with my well-being: the walk in the park or 20 minutes on the StairMaster?’ The walk in the park is going to have a better outcome,” she says.

About 20 minutes of daily moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, which could include a brisk walk or pushing a lawn mower, provides the same health benefits as running for 60 to 75 minutes a week, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Outdoor activities, such as group walks, hiking or biking, became more popular during the pandemic, according to the ACSM’s 2023 fitness trends report.

“Outdoor activity doesn’t take any technology and they don’t have to rely on an instructor instructing them from who knows where,” says Dr. Walt Thompson, former president of the ACSM and author of the report.


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A new trading year kicked off just weeks ago. Already it bears little resemblance to the carnage of 2022.

After languishing throughout last year, growth stocks have zoomed higher. Tesla Inc. and Nvidia Corp., for example, have jumped more than 30%. The outlook for bonds is brightening after a historic rout. Even bitcoin has rallied, despite ongoing effects from the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX.

The rebound has been driven by renewed optimism about the global economic outlook. Investors have embraced signs that inflation has peaked in the U.S. and abroad. Many are hoping that next week the Federal Reserve will slow its pace of interest-rate increases yet again. China’s lifting of Covid-19 restrictions pleasantly surprised many traders who have welcomed the move as a sign that more growth is ahead.

Still, risks loom large. Many investors aren’t convinced that the rebound is sustainable. Some are worried about stretched stock valuations, or whether corporate earnings will face more pain down the road. Others are fretting that markets aren’t fully pricing in the possibility of a recession, or what might happen if the Fed continues to fight inflation longer than currently anticipated.

We asked five investors to share how they are positioning for that uncertainty and where they think markets could be headed next. Here is what they said:

‘Animal spirits’ could return

Cliff Asness, founder of AQR Capital Management, acknowledges that he wasn’t expecting the run in speculative stocks and digital currencies that has swept markets to kick off 2023.

Bitcoin prices have jumped around 40%. Some of the stocks that are the most heavily bet against on Wall Street are sitting on double-digit gains. Carvana Co. has soared nearly 64%, while MicroStrategy Inc. has surged more than 80%. Cathie Wood‘s ARK Innovation ETF has gained about 29%.

If the past few years have taught Mr. Asness anything, it is to be prepared for such run-ups to last much longer than expected. His lesson from the euphoria regarding risky trades in 2020 and 2021? Don’t count out the chance that the frenzy will return again, he said.

“It could be that there are still these crazy animal spirits out there,” Mr. Asness said.

Still, he said that hasn’t changed his conviction that cheaper stocks in the market, known as value stocks, are bound to keep soaring past their peers. There might be short spurts of outperformance for more-expensive slices of the market, as seen in January. But over the long term, he is sticking to his bet that value stocks will beat growth stocks. He is expecting a volatile, but profitable, stretch for the trade.

“I love the value trade,” Mr. Asness said. “We sing about it to our clients.”

—Gunjan Banerji

Keeping dollar’s moves in focus

For Richard Benson, co-chief investment officer of Millennium Global Investments Ltd., no single trade was more important last year than the blistering rise of the U.S. dollar.

Once a relatively placid area of markets following the 2008 financial crisis, currencies have found renewed focus from Wall Street and Main Street. Last year the dollar’s unrelenting rise dented multinational companies’ profits, exacerbated inflation for countries that import American goods and repeatedly surprised some traders who believed the greenback couldn’t keep rallying so fast.

The factors that spurred the dollar’s rise are now contributing to its fall. Ebbing inflation and expectations of slower interest-rate increases from the Fed have sent the dollar down 1.7% this year, as measured by the WSJ Dollar Index.

Mr. Benson is betting more pain for the dollar is ahead and sees the greenback weakening between 3% and 5% over the next three to six months.

“When the biggest central bank in the world is on the move, look at everything through their lens and don’t get distracted,” said Mr. Benson of the London-based currency fund manager, regarding the Fed.

This year Mr. Benson expects the dollar’s fall to ripple similarly far and wide across global economies and markets.

“I don’t see many people complaining about a weaker dollar” over the next few months, he said. “If the dollar is falling, that economic setup should also mean that tech stocks should do quite well.”

Mr. Benson said he expects the dollar’s fall to brighten the outlook for some emerging- market assets, and he is betting on China’s offshore yuan as the country’s economy reopens. He sees the euro strengthening versus the dollar if the eurozone’s economy continues to fare better than expected.

—Caitlin McCabe

Stocks still appear overvalued

Even after the S&P 500 fell 15% from its record high reached in January 2022, U.S. stocks still look expensive, said Rupal Bhansali, chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, who oversees $6.7 billion in assets.

Of course, the market doesn’t appear as frothy as it did for much of 2020 and 2021, but she said she expects a steeper correction in prices ahead.

The broad stock-market gauge recently traded at 17.9 times its projected earnings over the next 12 months, according to FactSet. That is below the high of around 24 hit in late 2020, but above the historical average over the past 20 years of 15.7, FactSet data show.

“The old habit was buy the dip,” Ms. Bhansali said. “The new habit should be sell the rip.”

One reason Ms. Bhansali said the selloff might not be over yet? The market is still underestimating the Fed.

Investors repeatedly mispriced how fast the Fed would move in 2022, wrongly expecting the central bank to ease up on its rate increases. They were caught off guard by Fed Chair Jerome Powell‘s aggressive messages on interest rates. It stoked steep selloffs in the stock market, leading to the most turbulent year since the 2008 financial crisis. Now investors are making the same mistake again, Ms. Bhansali said.

Current stock valuations don’t reflect the big shift coming in central-bank policy, which she thinks will have to be more aggressive than many expect. Though broader measures of inflation have been falling, some slices, such as services inflation, have proved stickier. Ms. Bhansali is positioning for such areas as healthcare, which she thinks would be more insulated from a recession than the rest of the market, to outperform.

“The Fed is determined to win the war since they lost the battle,” Ms. Bhansali said.

—Gunjan Banerji

A better year for bonds seen

Gone are the days when tumbling bond yields left investors with few alternatives to stocks. Finally, bonds are back, according to Niall O’Sullivan of Neuberger Berman, an investment manager overseeing about $427 billion in client assets at the end of 2022.

After a turbulent year for the fixed-income market in 2022, bonds have kicked off the new year on a more promising note. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index—composed largely of U.S. Treasurys, highly rated corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities—climbed 3% so far this year on a total return basis through Thursday’s close. That is the index’s best start to a year since it began in 1989, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Mr. O’Sullivan, the chief investment officer of multi asset strategies for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Neuberger Berman, said the single biggest conversation he is currently having with clients is how to increase fixed-income exposure.

“Strategically, the facts have changed. When you look at fixed income as an asset class…they’re now all providing yield, and possibly even more importantly, actual cash coupons of a meaningful size,” he said. “That is a very different world to the one we’ve been in for quite a long time.”

Mr. O’Sullivan said it is important to reconsider how much of an advantage stocks now hold over bonds, given what he believes are looming risks for the stock market. He predicts that inflation will be harder to wrangle than investors currently anticipate and that the Fed will hold its peak interest rate steady for longer than is currently expected. Even more worrying, he said, it will be harder for companies to continue passing on price increases to consumers, which means earnings could see bigger hits in the future.

“That is why we are wary on the equity side,” he said.

Among the products that Mr. O’Sullivan said he favours in the fixed-income space are higher-quality and shorter-term bonds. Still, he added, it is important for investors to find portfolio diversity outside bonds this year. For that, he said he views commodities as attractive, specifically metals such as copper, which could continue to benefit from China’s reopening.

—Caitlin McCabe


Find the fear, and find the value

Ramona Persaud, a portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, said she can still identify bargains in a pricey market by looking in less-sanguine places. Find the fear, and find the value, she said.

“When fear really rises, you can buy some very well-run businesses,” she said.

Take Taiwan’s semiconductor companies. Concern over global trade and tensions with China have weighed on the shares of chip makers based on the island. But those fears have led many investors to overlook the competitive advantages those companies hold over rivals, she said.

“That is a good setup,” said Ms. Persaud, who considers herself a conservative value investor and manages more than $20 billion across several U.S. and Canadian funds.

The S&P 500 is trading above fair value, she said, which means “there just isn’t widespread opportunity,” and investors might be underestimating some of the risks that lie in waiting.

“That tells me the market is optimistic,” said Ms. Persaud. “That would be OK if the risks were not exogenous.”

Those challenges, whether rising interest rates and Fed policy or Russia’s war in Ukraine and concern over energy-security concerns in Europe, are complicated, and in many cases, interrelated.

It isn’t all bad news, she said. China ended its zero-Covid restrictions. A milder winter in Europe has blunted the effects of the war in Ukraine on energy prices and helped the continent sidestep recession, and inflation is slowing.

“These are reasons the market is so happy,” she said.

—Justin Baer


Self-tracking has moved beyond professional athletes and data geeks.


What goes up, must come down. But not necessarily this fast. Canadian marijuana stocks that posted staggering gains on Wednesday fell just as fast Thursday, while U.S. multistate operators, or MSOs, were dragged down, but fared a bit better. Tilray stock (ticker: TLRY) fell 49.7% Thursday, erasing all its gains from the prior trading day. Aphria stock (APHA) closed down …

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